Solar energy converts light into electricity. Solar panels that are installed on your building not only help with the environment, but with your electricity bills as well. However, there are certain factors that will affect the efficiency of your solar panels. Here’s how you can boost the efficiency of your solar panel and increase energy source.
Factors that affect solar panel efficiency
The following are factors that will affect the efficiency of your solar panels.
Temperature is one of the main factors influencing the efficiency of solar cells. This is due to the semiconductor materials they cells are built from. Solar panel efficiency decreases in high temperatures due to the drop of voltage between cells and increases when temperature drops.
Solar shadings are very likely to cause power losses and lower output for your solar panels. Even partial shading can have a significant impact on the efficiency of solar panels.
This is because solar cells in a series are connected to produce a higher voltage. Thus, the current in all the units in the series is actually determined by the unit that is producing the lowest amount of current.
Orientation and inclination
The orientation and inclination of the panels will affect the efficiency of the panels. Solar panels that are installed with these two factors in mind will be able to produce more energy as they are exposed to higher solar radiation. Climatic conditions and location latitude should also be considered.
Operation and monitoring
Lack of operation and monitoring can result in poorer performance as defects and anomalies are not detected. Performance analysis from monitoring software can help provide information on the efficiency of the panels as well as how to improve its light absorption.
While solar panels are made to last with warranties up to 25 years, frequent inspections can help to keep it in tip top condition. Panels that are not properly maintained will succumb to deterioration faster.
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Ways to improve solar panel efficiency
The following are a number of steps you can take to ensure that you’re getting the maximum amount of electricity from your solar panels.
Purchase one of the more efficient solar panel models
A solar panel’s efficiency depends on the percentage of energy (sunlight) that the photovoltaic cells actually convert into electricity. While all solar panels are composed of photovoltaic cells, not all solar panels are equally efficient.
Material, structure, and model all affect the quality of solar panels. More efficient solar panels are likely to be more expensive. However, this extra initial cost is usually worth it. After all, you don’t want to end up installing panels that don’t make any difference in your electricity bill.
Purchase panels with high CPV cells
CPV cells work to focus sunlight to increase solar cell efficiency. While traditional solar panels have about 22% efficiency, CPV panels can have up to 46% efficiency.
Of course, CPV panels cost more than traditional panels – sometimes up to four times more. Nonetheless, it’s something to consider especially if you have the budget.
Install solar panels in the right areas
Solar panels work by generating power from sunlight. As such, having them in a shaded area will reduce electricity output. In fact, the amount of energy generated can be greatly impacted even if one photovoltaic cell is not getting sunlight.
Tall buildings and tall trees are some of the main culprits when it comes to shading of solar panels. To avoid this, put in the time to plan and analyze the site before installing the panels. Bypass diodes can also be used to prevent the loss of energy if shading is an issue.
Get a professional to install your solar panels
Solar panels that are not installed properly will not be able to receive optimal sunlight and thus, will generate less power.
Factors such as orientation, angle and light exposure must all be taken into account. For example, solar panels should face the south if you’re in the northern hemisphere and oriented to the north if you’re located in the southern hemisphere.
If you’re not too sure where the panels should go and how to install it in a position where it will get maximum sunlight exposure, enlisting a professional to do the job might be a good idea.
Maintain your solar panels
Solar panels do not really require much maintenance. However, wear and tear throughout the years will still happen. Common problems to look out for include inverter issues, wiring damage and circuit breaker trips.
Read ‘Solar Panel Maintenance: All You Need To Know’ for more information on maintaining your solar panels.
Clean your solar panels
Dirt and dust can accumulate on the surface of your panels, reducing its efficiency. While rain can wash away some of the dirt, you should clean them every once in a while in order to keep them at maximum efficiency. This is especially so if you’re located in an area where there isn’t much rainfall.
Read ‘How To Clean Your Solar Panels: Steps And Best Practices’ for information on keeping your panels clean without damaging them.
Monitor output with energy management software
Monitoring the energy generated by your solar panels is important because if you don’t you won’t notice if there is a drop in efficiency. You can do this with an energy management software that allows you to detect energy decreases as well as electricity output over time.
A solar concentrator increases solar panel efficiency by concentrating light falling on larger areas into smaller ones. This means more energy is being absorbed and generated by your panels.
Prevent temperature increase
Solar panel efficiency actually drops when temperature increases. As such, there should be a sufficient gap in between panels that allows movement of air. A conducive environment prevents your panels from overheating and affecting the efficiency of the photovoltaic cells.
The efficiency of your solar panels can vary greatly depending on numerous factors. Giving consideration to the steps above can help your panels to generate a higher amount of power, making your investment more worthwhile.